Monday, February 7, 2011

Towards a General Line in Regards to US Political Reality

Another one of those Virginians, George Washington at Valley Forge

Recently I commented the following on Colonel Lang's blog:

"Let us not let the Zionists make fools of us in their pursuit of absolute security."

What a clear and yet profound statement Colonel! I can only agree, but at the same time, given the level of manipulation that seemingly pervades our discourse, how are we as a nation, as a political community, to see fit to identify our own political interests? Such a simple thing, yet so difficult in practice!

On various occasions I have taken the insights I have gained here and attempted to expand them further on the blog I share with others of like mind. We are all very much indebted to you sir as both a mentor and a source of inspiration. Whatever the outcome of this, there are legion out here that do hear and understand.

Notice that I have implicated all here in my statement, and without even having asked before hand! Was it the emotion of the moment?, the power of the vihno? or something else entirely, say something with nothing to do with US politics?

No, I think it none of these. Rather I wished to make a statement which brought together several different observations I've made over the last couple of years, these being:

* We Americans are in the midst of a profound political crisis, probably the most serious one we have ever faced as a political community.

* This crisis consists of a whole series of systemic failures which include the political, the economic, the strategic/intellectual, the moral . . .

* The current US elite holding de facto power, call them the "Empire Party" are anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, anti-Enlightenment, and radical in their views and intentions for the future of this country. They attempt to pass themselves off mostly as "conservatives" or even at times as "progressives", but their words are consistently betrayed by their actions. Their actions see the means of US government power as a tool to their own enrichment, they use public funds to enrich themselves and promote their own narrow interests.

* The Empire Party has a powerful propaganda instrument in their hands which is used effectively to confuse the citizenry. This propaganda has a significant ideological element which is especially "Libertarian" and Radical Right wing, yet most of those under the influence of this political propaganda do not gain anything through its goals or even benefit from the system in general, rather suffer under it in a variety of ways. The mass of supporters are essentially stooges to be manipulated at will for the interests of the cynical elite. Part of the propaganda mix is a pseudo-religious affiliation with Right-wing Israeli policies, although affiliation with other like-minded foreign interests is assumed.

These are my views, not necessarily those of anyone here or of Colonel Lang, although regarding the former I suspect that we barkeeps are overall in agreement for the most part. This would cover a significant amount of those who comment as well.

So why comment what I did on SST? In the title I use the term "General Line" and that refers to a concept from Marxist/Leninist thought although I use it differently. The General Line in communist terms was the general program of the party which had been decided on by the party leadership and had to be adhered to by all members. Not to do so was to deviate either to the "left" or "right" and face the possibility of being expelled from the party, at the least. My meaning here is not this, but more the nature of "a path forward" instead of a thoughtout program. Which means we could come from different points along the political spectrum and agree on certain current views and see (and follow) a similar path forward. Deviation is this case would be natural and sometimes enlightening, but rejoining the fold would remain a possibility, unlike in the communist system. Also there would be the sense of being part of a movement which is something the opposition to the Empire Party sorely lacks.

I have found the views expressed by Colonel Lang and his associated writers to be professional, thoughtful, insightful and roughly in line with my own views of the current situation, but possibly lacking the harder edge that exists in the four points I mentioned above (that is I may be more radical, although I make no claim of objectivity in that regard - it's more just a gut feeling). Colonel Lang has consistently shown me aspects of this reality I was either unaware of or lacking in the perception to take on and for that I am thankful. I will continue to comment on his blog and use what I have learned there to further expand here. In all I think we are all part of a movement to take back our country and to understand our current harsh political reality. If I have offended anyone by my actions I regret that, but can only add that was not my intention.

I'm very interested in ya'lls take on all this.


  1. Your comment did not offend me. I've long been a regular at SST - and I applaud your own superb writing. If I have a vote, I vote "keep it up!"


  2. I won't say "offended", but you can leave me off the "I Love Lang" list. I respect the man's experience, have been informed by his observations and analysis, but for my money he's a fairly arrogant jerk who thinks his opinions are facts. I love to read his responses to comments; anyone who offers contrary opinions gets an immediate blow-off; "So good to hear the opinion of an ignorant academic. Good luck with tenure!" or "It must be so good to live in Cloud Cuckoo Land!"

    So he's just another talking head, IMO. One who is more consistently realistic and well-informed than, say, Max Boot, but my fucking cat is better than THAT, so the bar ain't that high. I love the fact that he's now touting Suleiman as a Great Lover of Due Process. It's your Mad Super Intellect Intelligence Skilz that assures you that ol' Sully won't do what ever other security apparatchik in history has done once his party defeats the rebels/rivals and hunt them down and dissappear them?

    Good luck with THAT, Colonel...

    Anyway, his take on the Imperial U.S. is consistent with anyone who has been watching the past sixty years or so. He IS often well informed due to his access to the intel community. But I don't find his conclusions all that much more useful than a number of other commentators in the Blogosphere. Perfect example - he seems to think that with the paper "transition" from Mubarak to Suleiman that something actually substantial will occur. Here's Lang's "irony":

    "So now we have the Ikhwan going into discussions with Omar Suleiman the "designee" in the minds of the left as the man who will continue US and Israeli domination of Egypt through capitalist exploitation and imperialist treaty.

    Explain to me how that works. Explain to us all. pl"

    OK, smartass, I will. There are these people? They're called "proxies"? And they take money, or power, or sex, or Ritz Crackers, from other people to do the bidding of the people with the money, power and crackers. And those people (call them "puppets", functionaries", Quislings", "allies", call them what you want) do what their paymasters want them to do.

    Suleiman has been Mubarak's bobo since '93. He has headed the Gihaz al-Mukhabarat al-Amma since '91 and in that role has carried water for the U.S., including renditions and torture. He has been complicit in Mubarak's policies, the same policies that the people in Tahrir Square are so pissed off about.

    Christ, Lang, who SHOULDN'T this guy hunt down the Egyptian versions of Tank Man and put a bullet in the back of their heads? Because he's such a sweet and loveable guy?

    I gotta go cool off. Back in a bit with some thoughts on the whole "Imperial America" meme...

  3. Ok. Whew. I had forgotten how Lang's arrogance gets up my wick. I really need to stop taking the fucking politics so seriously.

    Anyway, you said earlier that "The current US elite holding de facto power, call them the "Empire Party" are anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, anti-Enlightenment, and radical in their views and intentions for the future of this country. They attempt to pass themselves off mostly as "conservatives" or even at times as "progressives", but their words are consistently betrayed by their actions. Their actions see the means of US government power as a tool to their own enrichment, they use public funds to enrich themselves and promote their own narrow interests."

    Let's take this apart piece by piece, 'kay?

    I'll agree, first, that there is a constituency for a "Greater America", if you will, an interventionist community. It crosses party lines to some extent, being primarily based not as much on pure ideology as on the "Washington Rules" coterie that believes in either doing well by doing good (the "liberal interventionists") or becuse power comes out of the barrel of a gun (Mao, and most of the Right).

    I would, however, argue that these people are:

    1. Not so much "anti-democratic" as "democracy-indifferent". They're perfectly willing to rule in a democracy, even to the extent of standing for elections and such, provided they have access to power regardless of the outcome. The essence of Bachevich's criticism was that the rules had become such that it really didn't matter who was "in power" in the Capitol or the White House. The same people, in many cases, had their fingers in the pie. These are the "aristos" of the 21st Century. Just as the old European nobility had more in common with the nobles of another country than their own "countrymen" our modern nobles are more at home at Davos or Cannes or the Hamptons than they are in East LA or Peoria. They don't really CARE how they rule - just that they do.

    2. Again, they're not really "anti-intellectual" or "anti-Enlightenment" themselves; indeed, they are typically products of good educations and the apex of Western thought. But they know that they rule because they can and do bamboozle the idiots who ARE anti-intellectual and Christopathic. Their goals depend on their being smarter than the rubes.

    They don't see themselves as radicals, either, rather, they either hark back to the pre-1945 times when a Westernized nation could spread the White Man's Burden and enrich itself (or try) and its leaders at the expense of others without all sort of excuses and apologies. Or they see themselves as a bulwark of secular decency against the heathens. Whatev'; the point is that they often see themselves as rationalists and pragmatists rather than nuts.

    I do agree that they tend to be interested more in the narrow intrests of their own class, and see national policies that benefit them as "benefitting the country". Free trade, for example, gains the plebs mostly access to some cheap plastic crap (while risking their livelihoods) while gaining the wealthy access to a tremendous opportunity for profit (while risking...well, nothing).

    While I tend to agree that we are in a poor state politically...worse than seccession? Worse than the Articles of Confederation period? Worse than the Depression?

    My caveat is that I think we are in a position very analogous to the "Gilded Age", where an accumulation of wealth was pushing this country as close to oligarchy as it has been in the 20th Century. We got out of that through a very fortunate combination of events which I don't see as repeatable. Whether the drift into oligarchy can or will be arrested now, I have no idea but am generally not optimistic.

  4. unmoderated comment

    I myself won't be unhappy with an un-Suleieman "result" unless it sparks an invasion of our coastline. I wonder if the gentleman FDChief agrees, more or less?

    Posted by: Ken Hoop | 07 February 2011 at 08:16 PM



  6. I'm with FDChief. I'm not going to go into as much depth, but I read Lang alot, and while I admire his expertise, his manner of debate falls short. I'm partial to his argument on Israeli influence but his social conservatism leaves me cold.

    Re: the "Empire Party," hey, we can label them all we can. We know what they are, but unless we can influence the narrative, it won't be successful. I think we need to make much more progress with the Democrats' liberal interventionalists and get them straight before tackling the empire party.

  7. Seydlitz -

    I agree with your four points. Although I am not 100 percent in agreement that we are currently in the "most" serious political crisis we have ever faced. But then I think we have had that discussion previously. Perhaps our difference there is more a matter of shading. Political parties are constantly changing systems. Todays empire party used to be the party of Ike, and before that the party of T.R., and before that the party of Lincoln.

    Regarding Colonel Lang's blog, I read it daily, but primarily for many of the very astute commenters. Lang himself is a bit of a bloviator with too much ego for my taste. But perhaps it comes with the territory. I know he has taken a lot of grief from neocons and their minions.

  8. "I myself won't be unhappy with an un-Suleieman "result" unless it sparks an invasion of our coastline."

    To channel my inner Lang, this is the part where we start talking about the Imperial Egyptian High Seas Fleet?

    WTF, over?

    I really don't give a rat's ass who rules in Cairo. But I do know that if it's Suleiman it might as well be Mubarak; that's just simple Despotism 101. If we (the U.S.) thinks that this will be good for us in the long run - or even the short - we should stop talking smack about loving us some democracy and the people in Tahrir Square - it confuses the rubes and pisses off the alien brown, as Kipling would say. If we don't, we should have used what influence we had to put some sort of Ataturk-ic soldier in the next chair; easier to do the transition thing.

    Oh, and the Bloomberg quote from the Lang post? Here's the graf that tickled me: "Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris on Feb. 5 openly praised the vice president as a “man of honor” who would keep Egypt free of radical Islam."

    Well, that settles it - if I was Egyptian I for one would waste no time welcoming my new Mukhabarat-running, billionaire-beloved master!

  9. Oh, I just remembered two other things about the Good Colonel that bug the shit out of me:

    1. His luuurve for the traitors of 1860. He just gets all wet and swoony about the Lost Cause, because you know that those good people just didn't want the Puritan Yankees coming around and telling them what they could and couldn't do - LIKE OWN BLACK PEOPLE.

    Any decent human understanding has to begin with the acceptance that the Southern Cause is perhaps the worst that man ever fought for outside of Nazism or Communism and that no better, just a different type of evil. Lang loves him some Rebels, so he's just another Traitor in Defense of Slavery, in my book.

    2. Despite getting his dick knocked in the dirt by conservatives for calling their heroes a bunch of self-deluded fools his default position is still punch-the-hippie. Despite the Left getting everything right from fucking Iran-Contra on down to Iraq and Sarah Palin's hunting skilz, Lang still loves to bitchslap him some liberals. I personally think that, given #1 above, that his "independent" pose is just that. He's a paleocon, a horse from the Kissinger stable.

    Smart guy, good connections. But all that?

    Not for me. Y'all like him, feel free to put a ring on him.

  10. "I think we are all part of a movement to take back our country and to understand our current harsh political reality."

    To expand on Jason's comment, I think we're all here exercised in some way at the way the U.S. has been acting, perhaps a little more during the Bush years because the muffler fell off and the straight-pipe Stupid was SO noisy. But I don't think that any of us here are in a real position to help "take our country back".

    The problem I see is that the U.S. circa 2011 has exceeded its governable limits. To have any sort of input into the system you now have to either have to invest a shitpot of cash of be born/marry into the right families. So "change" can only come from one of the elect - and why should they WANT change?

    The other way would be to really throw down and break the system and then rebuild it. We could do that - rally the people, agitate, foment a revolution. But even if we succeed - the track record for that sort of violent revolution is 0.5 for 2 for the big games. The Russian version is still a fucking disaster area, ground zero for corruption, savagery, and dictatorship. The French...well, it worked out. But in the interim you had something like ten years of bloody chaos, and then nearly twenty of global war. Millions, tens of millions died.

    And as for the rest, well...look around at Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.


    Our best hope at the moment is to try and get the ear of a liberal magnate, become the Machiavelli for some future wealthy rationalist and humanist. But where the heck is this paragon going to come from? The Left has lost the will to govern liberally and the Right just flat-out has lost the ability to govern; you got Republicans in Georgia suggesting we abolish driver's licenses, for fucks sake!

    The Good Government/Progressive/New Deal coalition looks increasingly like a one-off.

  11. Wow Chief, that was quite a rant - or series of rants I guess. It must be very frustrating for you to live in a country where some 80% of your fellow Americans are, variously, traitors, morons and stooges.


    I generally agree with your four bullet-points with a few caveats. Although you put "Libertarian" in quotes I think the radical right shares little with Libertarian ideology on a host of issues. Also, as I've pointed out many times before, this nation's current course is unsustainable and so the elites cannot fool and manipulate forever. Either the elites will have to change and face reality or eventually a crisis will come which will reset the political environment. Who knows how the latter will turn out in the end, but as it currently stands, the elites appear unlikely to change anytime soon.

    On the other hand, I think that's a bit of a simplistic calculus. I think elites aren't necessarily fooling people all the time, but giving them what they want. I talked about that recently regarding the boomers, who, as a cohort, profess a high degree of cognitive dissonance regarding what they want vs want they're willing to "pay" to get those wants. This aspect of the boomer cohort is evidenced by the various policy inconherencies put forward by both the right and left.

    Regarding Lang, I agree with some of the others that he's a bully. It's also interesting what a poor judge of character he is given his humint background. At one point he thought I was a "committee" of hasbara agents sent against him. I'm not the first or the last he's so wrongly mischaracterized. I fully admit his acerbic character and low tolerance for disagreement on certain subjects has caused me to exercise a degree of self-censorship when commenting there and, as a result, I rarely do anymore. I simply don't want to spend the effort to craft a nuanced comment that won't be misinterpreted by him or his fan club of anti-Zionists.

    Regardless, I read pretty much everything he writes, including his comments to others in the comment section. I think he often makes important, cogent points despite his various flaws and biases. Chief's lament about "hippie bashing" is actually a source of entertainment for me - kind of like Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino. Maybe I have a soft-spot for curmudgeons.

  12. Seydlitz,
    I believe that the basic problem is that we forget what we are and where we came from as a nation. Aptly you have Washington as a lead in.
    ISTM that he was a royal born willing to be the first citizen. The play between he and Jefferson was/is still the defining line in US politics.This is the royal born v the common man. This distinction still is playing itself out.
    Anyway, i digress.
    We forget that the only function of US govt is to govern the US. When we go beyond this point we get into trouble. Having said that it's clear that we are a world power b/c we are Jacksonian renegade killers and land grabbers, with a deep cover as good guys. Jackson was our Bismarck.
    Now for Lang. I DO NOT read SST and share Chiefs position. I believe that Lang must be a good man, but in my beginnings of blogging i was attacked viciously and violently by Larry Johnson , a side kick of Lang.This foul dude has threatened people on the internet and i had to get FDLE Computer Crime people to deal with his cyber stalking. I say again -he was viscious and deranged and mindless in his assaults. He and socnet coordinated a slander attack and called me a phony etc..
    SO I'M A BIT TOUCHY ABOUT JOHNSON,and the Lang connection. Pls note that i'm not indicting Lang, but Lang did once blow me off b/c i criticized the Macsog deathshead patch, with words like- you're just not one of us , or some such. This was a belittling comment and i'll never accept the validity of any US unit using deaths head symbols.That's my divide with Lang.
    I have a complete file on Johnson and my letters to Lang trying to get his dog chained up.
    Maybe this is more than you need to know.
    The beauty of America is that we all have the right to be wrong.
    You are right to express what you believe.
    I enjoy your writings.

  13. Andy: I'd say probably no more that 77%, really. The other 3% are just misled.

    The thing about Lang's hippie-bashing isn't that he's wrong-from-the-get-go; I'm a liberal curmudgeon, as you noted from my ranting above. I'd be willing to give Lang the benefit of the doubt if he really did seem to take in the whole range of political options presented to him. It's that, for a guy who claims to be iconoclastically smarter than the average bear, his reflexive dismissal of anything left of center often ends up cutting him off from a real discussion of the subject.

    His default range seems to be from center-right to middle-far-right. That's fine, but if I want to hear anything less conservative than Eliot Abrams I have to go over to Jason's site or find out what Bachevich has to say on the subject. That makes Lang a fairly flawed resource, for me, anyway.

    And I have the same problem you have (but less than jim had, fortunately) with his comments. The signal-to-noise level is ridiculous.

    And we've had this discussion before, but I still wish you'd consider that large polities like the U.S. can go a loooong time on a downward spiral without a crash. Look at Imperial Rome, look at imperial Britain, look at imperial Spain. Lots of little "crises" but no real fundamental change in the system for hundreds of years - in Britain you could argue that the only real "reset" has been the migration of political power from the nobility and landed gentry around the throne to the economic gentry and nobility around #10 Downing Street.

    That's what I was talking about above; the nice thing about a 737 is that it flies nice and smooth and level. The difficult thing is to change direction...

  14. jim: Kind of a feature, not a bug, innit? I mean, the default setting in the U.S. for the first hundred years or so was, what, something between 10% and 50% of the population could even vote at all? Washington was elected by just the property-owning white men - probably about 5-10% of every swinging richard in the U.S...

    Plus think about the cash it takes just to get a place on the stump. Is there any surprise that Joe (and now Mary) Lunchpail have to find a way to either 1) get a bazillion people to kick down ten bucks, or 2) get one or two rich people to kick down a couple million. Which is easier?

  15. jim: Sorry to hear about your issues with this guy over at Lang's site. I may have some problems with some people I run into on the 'Net (I still wonder what the hell was going on with that "Diogenes" guy back at the old Intel Dump) but I can't imagine ever going to that insane length to fight witn someone over a matter of opinion, or being on the receiving end of same.

    And in that regard I should state for the record that as much as I rant about all my fellow traitors, morons, and stooges around here I promise NEVER to sneak into your garage before work and let the air out of your tires or something. I like our discussions - and even our fights - because I always learn something here.

  16. Chief,

    Lang has his biases, but who doesn't? Bacevich? You, me, Jason? Do we "take in the whole range of political options" presented to us? I'd like to think I do, but of course I can't and I don't. It's simply not possible. Sure, Lang is biased, but that doesn't mean his opinion is necessarily flawed or that his points lack merit.

    Just as another example, I read a lot of Libertarian writing on politics and economics. I would never want a Libertarian running the country, but Libertarian criticism is very useful and often on-point. In other words, I think Libertarians are good at identifying issues that others tend to ignore even though I don't often agree with proposed Libertarian solutions. It's the same kind of thing with Lang.


    I seem to remember that some of the right-wing milbloggers were attacking you. I'd forgotten about that. Shame on them and good on you for sticking to your guns.

  17. Andy: Agree. I have a hard time with some of his 'tude, and that's my problem, not his. His site, his 'tude, and I can either deal with it or go the hell away.

    I do think that there is a bright line where bias can become a real bitch, though, and Lang's immediate punching reflex makes his comment section a real chore for me to wade through. Unlike seydlitz, I don't actually get much out of his commentors because he just won't engage with an opinion that he thinks is "too far" left. I hope and think that the difference between SST and here is that those of us here don't do that. For instance, I know tha you disagree the hell out of some of the things I say but you'v never handed me a "It must be nice to live in Cloud Cuckoo Land" sort of blow-off. We've had arguments where we both ended up in the same positions we began, but at least you showed me the respect of laying out your ideas, why you believe them, and why you disagree with mine.

    So it's not that I think that it's Lang's bias that's the problem, it's the way he choses to employ that bias. Instead of taking on his commentors when they disagree with him, he gets anything from just irascible to (IMO) kind of freaky and peculiar, as with your "hasbara agents" experience.

    The guy is hooked in to a lot of good intel, but if he acted like he does to his commentors with his civilian employers, well...congresscritters and Executive Branch staffers can be some of the most self-important people I've ever encountered. I wonder if they responded like you'd imagine and I wondr if that has something to do with his cranky-old-man 'tude?

  18. Thanks for the comments gentlemen. Seem to have kicked up a good bit of dust with my SSTcomment/MilPubPost which is good imo. Obviously I'll have to be more careful in the future of including my fellow barkeeps with my views in regards to Col. Lang.

    Some general comments:

    Empire Party = Washington Rules. Same thing by another name which includes both parties, thus waiting for the Democratic "interventionalists" whoever those two guys might be isn't going to make much difference, in other words is a pipedream.

    "undemocratic". Their actions speak loud and clear imo. The capture of policy by corporate money is only one indication. The collapse of a functioning and hostile to power (a necessity for democracy) free press is another. The propaganda - actually "total propaganda" following Ellul - is so pervasive that it is difficult imo to see its full extent inside the country. Perhaps Al will comment on that. To this I would add the police state/stalking horse argument of mine which I think everyone familiar with.

    Support of democracy is not limited to going through the motions either of course, but includes active support of democratic values which would include the rule of law, government accountability, openness of government actions, active investigations of government abuses, etc. Not to mention all the soft stuff like support for education, critical thinking, rights and responsibilities . . .

  19. Now to the "General Line" . . .

    No one has mentioned it at all in the comments. Rather just what they (dis)like about Colonel Lang, which is fine, but what about the concept itself? Would it be advantageous for the opposition to the Washington Rules/Empire Party to have a "General Line" the way I have defined it? What would be the advantages of having Col. Lang providing the General Line over say, Prof. Juan Cole?


    I was unaware of the problems you had with Johnson, so please do not take anything I have said as in support of his despicable actions. You are one of us and can count on my "support" as limited as it is in this medium.

  20. FDChief, some day you're going to say something I disagree with, but hasn't happened yet.

    On Suleiman, I think he'll still be there in a few years (foreground or background) and is just being proto-Putin in slapping around a few billionaires. The rest of Egypt's elite will consider themselves lucky and get in line with the new boss. He may well not end up not being America's or a complete Western corporate bitch, I suspect he will find even more gold with the Chinese.

    The Egyptian riff-raff, not so much.

  21. I am not so pessimistic about the political future. With the internet, I now see and hear (on a daily basis) a far greater range of political opinions than I did a decade ago.

    This has got to be making the professional opinion shaper's job much harder. Just look at how the discourse about Israel has changed in the last 5 years. Similarly with drug legalization.

    The problem is that the American two party system does not give voters a real choice. This will not last.

  22. seydlitz: I think the "General Line" is already out there and has been for generations. Here's jim's old original aristo, George Washington, on the subject of letting people run the nation in their own selfish interest rather than the commin good:

    "But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts."

    And here he is on the notion that the country should swan about in foreign parts mistaking intrests for "friendship":

    "Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

    Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

    Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies."

    What are we saying here that better known analysts such as Bachevich haven't said, and that repeatedly?

    I think the issue here isn't that there is no "alternative" to the Washington Rules and the Imperial Party out there. It's that what the Washington Rules/Imperial policies gain for those who employ them benefit them. How would a return to a truly "conservative" U.S.; a U.S. that refrained from foreign adventuring, a U.S. that demanded of its corporate citizens the sort of patriotic sacrifice (both personal and financial) it demands of its private citizens, a U.S. that insisted on Washington's sort of wary self-interest abroad and placing national over factional good at would that benefit them?

  23. Ael: My problem with the examples you cite is that look at the physical facts rather than the rhetoric. We're locking up more people for damn "drug crimes" than ever. Regardless of the play of opinion, the U.S. government is more Israel's poodle than ever; try and imagine Ike warning a tiny dependent nation not to build on occupied land and sitting there passively when they did. Hell, back in '56 he biatchslapped the Brits and Israelis for less.

    I mean, I like the freedom to chatter on about this stuff, but I'm afraid it's just panem et circenses...

  24. As an aside:

    Consider Washington's prose in making his points on those who would divide; no working across the aisle, bipartisanship with boners who cast (publicly) verbal stones, likening the preznit to everything but a shiftless Nigger.

    No congresscritter or president can talk like that nowadays, which gives proof to their inability to think (at the drop of a hat...lights, camera..Action), like that as well. Hell, their speechcritters can't even do it, were their miserable lives on the line. The last person able to do so was Moynihan.

    Washington did not bite his tongue when it came to drawing a line at foreign entanglements either; pointing out the fiscal foolishness of same. Had the Military, Industrial, Congressional Complex emerged from the soil (weed like) during his presidency, he would no doubt have those treacherous opportunists shot.

    "discountenancing," I like that.

  25. FDChief-

    "I think the "General Line" is already out there and has been for generations."

    If that's true, then the whole concept is worthless.

  26. seydlitz: Not so. Think about the many times various nations have, as Andy would say, "reset" themselves. Just in the post-Enlightenment Period the UK has had several Civil Wars, a Glorious Revolution, all sorts of constitutional crises, the rise of Labor, Thatcherism, and now Blairism and post-Blairism.

    The problem still remains; for all that the words have been spoken and written over and ovr again, the people whose interests would be countered by a non-interventionist, realist General Line are STILL close to the levers of power. Despite fucking up over the past decade as no U.S. foreign policy coterie has fucked up since perhaps the invasions of Canada, people like Feith, Cheney, Rummy, Condi, the Kagans...all these people are STILL being taken seriously.

    It's not that the concept is worthless, it's that it's not being heard. What's needed isn't formulation, it's popularization.

  27. It will be a cold day in hell when I accept any "general line" from the likes of Pat Lang. What's good about this blog is that we "DON'T have a "general line," something that no doubt would drive someone like Lang crazy, given his clear need for control over everything around him. Seydlitz, if you want a "general line," if you want comment moderation, if you want a situation where anyone who doesn't adore the blog meister is egregiously insulted at every turn, then you don't want to be around me.

    The pity about Pat Lang is that he's a very smart and talented guy. I agree with him a lot more than I don't. He can be amazingly incisive at times and he's often worth reading. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem capable of being witty, welcoming or friendly. He comes across as a fundamentally dry and humorless person with little use for those who don't kiss his ass.

    And, yes, Colonel Lang presents himself as the prototypical southerner, pining away for the lost Confederacy. You know, we regular officers are different from reservists and national guard guys. It's 24/7 working for the home team for a lot of years. No states or localities involved. That's why it's hard to fathom love for the Confederacy coming from a regular US Army officer, a fellow whose dress uniform is blue, not gray. Romanticism is all well and good, but treason is still treason.

    "We are all very much indebted to you sir as both a mentor and a source of inspiration."

    You may emphatically count me out of this statement, Seydlitz. I am not indebted to Lang, Lang is not my mentor, nor is he a source of inspiration to me. Unfortunately, I suspect I will have to reinforce my thoughts with a separate post just to ensure that there is no misunderstanding on this point.

  28. Chief:

    Maybe it is just bread and circuses. However, the internet does permit self-organizing communities in a fashion not seen by history.

    Egypt could only turn off the net for a week (and only a partial shutdown at that). Just wait a few more years.

    If I was running China, I would be very worried indeed.

  29. Publius-

    Greetings. I suspected that my actions would meet with disagreement on your part, but consider in fact what I'm saying . . .

    You characterize "the general line" contrary to the way I have presented it:

    "So why comment what I did on SST? In the title I use the term "General Line" and that refers to a concept from Marxist/Leninist thought although I use it differently. The General Line in communist terms was the general program of the party which had been decided on by the party leadership and had to be adhered to by all members. Not to do so was to deviate either to the "left" or "right" and face the possibility of being expelled from the party, at the least. My meaning here is not this, but more the nature of "a path forward" instead of a thoughtout program. Which means we could come from different points along the political spectrum and agree on certain current views and see (and follow) a similar path forward. Deviation is this case would be natural and sometimes enlightening, but rejoining the fold would remain a possibility, unlike in the communist system. Also there would be the sense of being part of a movement which is something the opposition to the Empire Party sorely lacks."

    Your version is much closer to the communist version that I in fact reject. Where have I mentioned moderating comments? When have I ever moderated comments? I'm not talking about changing what we have, since I prefer it, but rather considering a general line forward . . . this could be a focus for the "self-organizing communities" that Ael mentions.

    If we are going to be effective in any way, that is besides just blowing off steam we have to form into something greater than ourselves. We need to form into something akin to a movement, and for that we need a standard bearer, essentially a 21st Century George Washington. I have proposed Colonel Lang for that role, but am open to other candidates . . . of which none have been offered. Is he the perfect choice? Who would be? But then waiting around for the perfect choice to appear isn't an answer either imo.

    In life, one has many mentors as you know, and none of them are perfect, but they are useful and hopefully capable of rallying support outside a narrow circle . . .

    I greatly value your view sir, so don't take my comments as opposing, rather as complementing your own . . .

  30. Ok, now the Publius has mentioned it, I have to ask him and Chief: Are you guys serious about the treason thing? That is a very serious charge, one of the most serious a person can make IMO. It should not be made lightly.

    Lang went to VMI. Have you guys looked at their website? Is the veneration of a Civil War Confederate General at a state-sponsored institution also treason?

    AFAIK Lang has never advocated for slavery, much less the return of slavery. The furthest he's gone, that's I've seen, is to suggest that the Civil War could have been avoided through (paraphrasing from memory) an economic program where slaves were freed and owners economically compensated. I commented to him at the time, again paraphrasing, that such and idea is wishful thinking at best.

    Although I think such ideas are foolish, do they really constitute treason or are you guys rhetorically exaggerating?


    The problem, as I see it, is that the US is a diverse country with a lot of factions that have, in many cases, mutually exclusive goals and interests. Since I cannot in good conscious give my political support to the two major parties as they now exist (plus the Tea Party), I'm all for some other kind of alternative movement, but I'm skeptical that a more agreeable alternative would be able to compete against the entrenched establishment, much less be able to reconcile enough competing interests to form some kind of coalition that could actually bring about change.

    So, at least at present, I don't see any "path forward," at least at the national level since I don't see agreement on even basic issues. Then there is the problem of the intentional national blindness to the rising costs of entitlements which is the primary driver of out national insolvency. That unsustainable view is one of the few areas of agreement actually. Despite the obviousness of the problem, very few are willing to make the kinds of hard choices necessary to solve it.

    Maybe I lack the vision. Maybe I'm too cynical. I would like to be convinced that there is a way out of this mess that avoids a serious national crisis, but it seems to me we Americans are not very good at that sort of planning.

  31. Andy: I can't speak for Publius but I am using the term "traitor" as a rhetorical device. To be a "traitor" in the legal sense Lang would have to be actively working to subvert or overthrow the U.S. Constitution, which so far as I know he is not.

    That said, IMO we really should be harder on the rebels than we are as a nation. It used to gripe me that I was posted at a fort named after the traitor Braxton Bragg, or that there are so many places (like VMI) in the Old South that are encouraged to revere the names of those who betrayed their own country to defend perhaps the worst human practice in history outside rape and murder.

    Would a post-1945 Germany have allowed their staff school to revere the name of Manstein and Model? Is their a Goebbels Institute of Communications, or a Speer Technical College?

    One reason I think this matters is that it forms a major part of the wingnut-and-teacracker whining about how awful things are now and how the eeeeevil socialist Democrats are taking away Our Precious Liberties.

    Because if you pine for how Old Times There Are Not Forgotten then you're right - the advances in liberties for women, for people-who-are-not-white, for gays...all this means that you can't let your inner White Guy fly free. You HAVE lost power and freedom relative to these other groups.

    So when I come across people, like Lang, who sympathize with the Rebs I often find that there is a little, or more than a little, resentment at changes in civil rights as much as the Civil War.

    And Lang's farrago about how "war could have been avoided" is just that. Various abolition schemes were proposed almost from the founding of the Republic; they were always, always vetoed by the slaveholding interests - and those interest were not exclusively Southern - until the South forced the issue in 1860. Lincoln did not, until secession was a reality, propose to force abolition. The Civil War was entirely the result of Southern paranoia and defense of slavery.

    Britain, where there was no equivalent of a regional bloc defending the Peculiar Institution, did, in fact, simply outlaw the practice half a century earlier.

    For a guy who claims to be an expert on both history and world affairs I'd say that Lang's misprision of those events is not to his credit.

  32. Andy: I would say that the "rising cost of entitlements" is less of a problem than it looks, given that as a driver of deficits it is being driven by a rising cost of tax cuts. And that the third elephant in the room is the rising cost of intelligence-and-defense and intrest on teh debt, the third and fourth legs of the elephant.

    And the "problem" is compounded by the reality that to address this problem the U.S. is confronted with two, equally appalling choices:

    Smash the entitlements as part of a general reduction in spending. As a result a large part of the country - probably about 10-12 percent - sinks back into the pre-war-on-poverty poverty, real poverty, shotgun-shack, hookworm-and-pellagra poverty.

    And my in-laws are forced to move in with ME - and that's the biggest horror of all, trust me.


    Raise collections back to a 1960's level. I don't think the nation has the willingness to do this.

    So I think that it's not so much not being good at planning as much as it is a national trend in ignoring fiscal reality that has been going on since the Sixties and viciously so since the Eighties.

  33. Chief,
    To reinforce what you say about VMI et al, just look at the Citadel and the shameful way that females were hazed. Right outta the old playbook.
    I do not favor women in deployed units, but i'd never screw one over like the cadets did at the Citadel, and probably with a blind eye provided by the Alumni and administration. This was old school.
    I agree about the mean spirit of Lang's comments/replies.
    We at RAW have a friend, name withheld by request, whose son was KIA in Iraq, and Lang nailed him to the wall, calling him basically hippy scum and anti war etc..
    Ironically the man in question is a military contractor/ designer backing the war effort.Also he lost a son, which is a hard road.
    His treatment was mean spirited. Like you say, we don't all agree on pub, but we are all respectful( mostly).

  34. Chief,

    I'm headed out the door so a longer reply will have to wait.

    Who owns the history of the south? What gives you or the "rest of the nation" the right to tell anyone or "be harder" (whatever that means in practice) on how interpret their own history? Furthermore, what do you expect to accomplish? How do you expect southerners to react to your demands? How would you react if someone from a different cultural background made similar demands of you?

    On entitlements the math doesn't support your conclusions. Medicare costs, for example, have been increasing at 2-5 times the general rate of inflation for over 30 years now. There is no level of taxation that can sustainably support that kind of cost growth - it's not mathematically possible. The reason it hasn't been much of a problem until now is because of the demographics of the boomer cohort, specifically their numbers relative previous generations, which brought in more revenue for those programs even with the cost increases. That revenue was spent in other areas (The Clinton "surpluses" for example, would not have existed without that money) and now that the boomers are retiring, the situation is reversed - FICA revenues will not be able to fund entitlements at current taxation levels even absent the cost growth. With the cost growth, there's no hope because revenues are declining due to demographic realities and costs have not been reigned in for over three decades and will continue to increase at unsustainable rates (2-3 times inflation). Politicians from both parties generally ignore this because of the ugly questions it would raise. This isn't a problem that we can tax our way out of.

    But hey, don't take my word for it, the CBO director and the Medicare and SS actuaries have written on this topic many times. Links to that later when I get back.

  35. Andy,

    "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it"

    Your implied relativism aside, The South is repeating its history, right now. Perhaps you've missed the calls to "take back" the country, or about that black man in the WH who wants to take away our guns (property/rights/etc). Try opening a newspaper and reading an op-ed or letter to the editor sometime.

    It shouldn't have to be our jobs to point out the facts, but you have Romanticists like Lang and a whole set of institutions (some that receive public funding) perpetuating a mythos that is without factual basis. There are plenty of naive folks to be snookered by this, I encounter them in the south all my life, but people like Lang are smart enough to know the gaping holes in their myth, and deliberately choose to ignore them.

    I guess you would prefer a more respectful or culturally PC response to their their sociopathies.

    You do make a good case for Universal Health Care and single payer, given the long predicted and complete failure of the free market to provide affordable solutions under Medicare. I'm unsure why you are surprised revenues decline when we've had three decades of tax cuts and resulting raiding of the SS trust. You seem to have missed - I presume not deliberately - the many times said actuaries have made that same causal connection. Perhaps one of those Reagan myths about how tax cuts generate revenue are at play here and I should be more open to others' misintreptations of history here.

  36. Andy: Re: the South, I am suggesting exactly that.

    After 1945 Germany, and the world, has made the deliberate choice to demonize the Nazis. This hasn't stopped various oddjobs from trying to revere or celebrate those who fought for Germany - and I will be the first to admit that many German soldiers fought believing they were patriots rather than Nazis - but that's it. The weight of opinion has, in general, forced most of those, even the honest patriots, to keep the silence of shame. The world made this "cultural demand" on Germany and, confronted with the horror of what had been done in its name, it reacted as it should have; with horror, shame, and silence.

    So it should be with the Confederacy. I don't care what the motives of the soldiers were, or how brave they were. They were soldiers in a Bad Cause, as bad as any every fought for, and the proper attitude towards that Cause, even now, is a hangdog silence. Mentioning that your great-grandpappy died serving under Lee should be the equivalent of confessing that he was hung as a rapist or a murderer.

    Because, as srv points out, anything less is to let the camel's nose of regional treason in defense of discrimination back into the tent, as we've seen with the Tea Crackers.

    Pining for the South should be treated EXACTLY like pining for the Nazis.

  37. And re: entitlements...

    srv got there fustest with the mostest, and so let me just give him some supporting fire.

    We should really break down "entitlements" into their various components.

    First is Social Security. As srv points out, SS has a temporary problem that is related to the boomer bulge. Eliminating the ridiculous FICA limit would largely fix that once Congress' pattyfingers can be kept out of the trust fund, and beyond that I can't see significant issues there that aren't fixable with soem tinkering.

    Medicare, tho...yeah, Medicare is the elephant. And Medicare costs are rising primarily because of the basis for Medicare reimbursement, health care, has exploded. And a pantsload of that explosion is related to advances in hugely expensive treatments like transplants, chemo, and end-of-life care.

    Stuff that would probably help the general public more such as simple annual check-ups, prenatal and well-baby care...that stuff is a bagatelle.

    And don't forget the unfunded "Part D" fited to us by those precious small-gummint conservatives!

    So there DOES need to be a fix there; but the fix isn't something that can happen by just cutting people off the thing and telling them to go away and die. You lose taxpayers that way, and that's bad for any nation. We DO need to get an handle on health costs, but that is a place that about 50% of the country doesn't want to go and won't go unless they're dragged there, because it involves making choices about those expensive treatments and, even worse, considering rationing care at the national level like most of the rest of the industrialized world.

  38. Well, Sedylitz, you certainly opened the box on this one.

    Mr. Lang...he's okay, in fact, as far as opinions go, I'll listen to what he has to say and consider his words far more than any talking head on tv.
    Which at this point, says a lot about how selective I am about who I give the time of day too.
    But as Chief, Publius, Andy, and Jim have pointed out...we all have opinions.
    Lang has his, I have mine, you have yours, and like everyone else, our opinions may be brilliant or uncompromisingly stupid.
    However, Mr. Lang has one problem...and that is he enforces an echo chamber on his site, and as we have seen...echo chambers are not a good place to discuss issues.

    And thank G-d, we are not like Mr. Lang's site, else I would, more than likely, be removed as a contributor.

    I think we all reserve the right to call a brilliant idea brilliant, and stupid idea stupid.
    But herein is the caveat which we all must agree on...that even a stupid idea, or statement has as much right to be printed as a brilliant one.
    In fact, I insist on stupidity being given the opportunity to present it's true nature because if stupidity is not allowed to raise it's ugly head, then the individual who invests their time with it, their brain power to it can never be corrected.
    Or worse yet, the stupid idea goes viral, is never addressed publicly, and thus goes unchallenged till it becomes truth by corporate ommission to confront it.

    Mr. Lang, for all his good works, does not allow room for challenges, and thus...there is a huge opportunity for stupid ideas to be expressed unchallenged.

    If Mr. Lang wishes to elevate his site to the level that is ours, then he needs to let go the reins of control, and allow dissent.
    Certainly, dissent is noisy, messy, and often times ugly, but so is the truth.

  39. C'mon, Andy, it ain't Lang I'm talking about when I use the word "treason." And I'm frankly aghast that you chose to construe my comment like that. So far as I know, Colonel Lang is an honorable retired dude who served the nation long and well. It's not Lang, it's those damned long-dead guys from 1861 that are the traitors. And what irks me about Lang and millions of others is the mythos surrounding people who should have been hanged. Look at the lives lost, the damage to the nation. That's traitorous conduct. And I find the hero worship and idolatry offensive.

    More on the Confederacy. The big lie has it that they seceded because of "states' rights." In other words, as the Southern worshipper would have you believe, theirs was an honorable cause, where reasonable men can agree to disagree. Well, that's just plain old horseshit. Even their own documents reveal quite explicitly that the absolute driving force for secession and war was the preservation of slavery. How's that for an honorable cause? Honorable gentlemen, indeed.

    Irony abounds when it comes to the South. One hundred and fifty years ago, millions of poor white Southern boys who could never have afforded to own slaves went marching off to war so that rich plantation owners (their betters) could own slaves. Those po' boys died in droves at Gettysburg and a number of other choice locales. So their rich "betters" could own slaves.

    Fast forward 150 years. Now we have massive disgruntlement amongst poor Southern white folk. Why are they upset? Well, it's hard to tell. They're usually not well educated, which means they don't have high-paying jobs, which in turn means don't pay much in taxes. They get their welfare checks on time just as the minorities do. So why are they pissed off? The best I can tell is they're just "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" specifically their rich "betters," the white business owners, want them to be pissed off. And, just like 1861, they are good at following orders. We're not getting armed rebellion out of these folks yet, but we're sure getting some pot-stirring.

    Enter the Tea Party. Near as I can tell, the Tea Party wants to radically cut all expenditures in all areas except those where they benefit. And inasmuch as your typical Tea Party dude approves of about 98% of government spending and thinks that the budget will somehow be balanced by eliminating foreign aid, you can see where I'm a little confused by these people.

    Oh, and did I mention the president's black?

  40. Chief et all,

    So, southerners should be as totally and completely ashamed of their history as the Germans are of the Nazis. Well, all I can say is good luck with that Quixotic enterprise. You might as well write "there be dragons" on that part of the map. Might I suggest, partially in jest, that if you feel that strongly about it, perhaps you raise a Grand Army of the Republic to go forth and put those treasonous southern bastards in their place. Obviously Sherman, who we can name schools after since he was on the righteous side, failed to impress those "Nazis" enough with total-war methods to get them to see the error of their ways and get them back on the righteous path. I know, let's "rendition" Lang to the Burkino Faso CIA black site for some "enhanced interrogation" in order to prove his slave-loving sympathies. I mean, he thinks Stonewall Jackson was a great General, so it's obvious he loves him some slavery, right? We just need to get him to admit the truth and the error of his ways. Yeah, that's the ticket!

    In case it's not obvious, the paragraph above contains a lot of gross hyperbole. The purpose, however, is suggest that maybe history and the interpretation of history isn't as simplistic and cut-and-dry as you guys make it out to be. In your rush to condemn anything southern for being tainted by slavery, perhaps you should take a look at your own history and the history of this country generally. Do you discriminate between the wrongs committed by your ancestors or those in history you admire and things they might be admired for? Chief - for example, you bring up FDR frequently, including in this thread when you mention the "New Deal Coalition." FDR did some terrible things yet you seem to be able to separate the good things he did from the bad. You also seem perfectly able to laud the New Deal coalition that was much more racist than is the case today to the point of wishing it would return (one wonders how you plan to build such a coalition given your current views of the south). FDR was perfectly willing to not only court the explicit southern racist vote, but lock-up a bunch of Japanese-Americans for no good reason. Using your logic, anyone who speaks well of FDR or the Democrats should be condemned and ashamed, correct? After all, to support FDR is to support race-based concentration camps and Jim Crow, right? Well, the world does work like that and you would rightly scoff at anyone who suggested such a thing. You'd probably react with hostility if someone went further than that and suggested that by pinning for FDR's coalition you want to bring back internment camps. Well, how do you think your words sound to southerners? Do you really expect them to react the way you want them to react and alter their view of history the way you want them to through accusations of treason and comparison to Nazi's? That is an quest worthy of a man from la Mancha - I wish you well on that journey.

  41. Publius,

    Well, that's why I asked and Chief specifically called Lang a traitor.

    To continue from above I was raised in the West and received an education as a child in my regional history (and by "west" I do not include the west coast). The Civil War wasn't part of that history and so was not nearly as prominent a narrative for me as were the various Indian wars and other conflicts that were unique to the west. What is the proper way to view that history considering the Army that was so righteous in defeating the evil of slavery in the South was directly responsible for the extermination of entire peoples? Is it ok for me to speak well of the Union Army, the ancestor of today's Army despite their culpability? How should I feel about the biggest Army base in my home state, Ft. Carson?

    SRV talks about implied relativism. Well, hate to break it to you, but relativism is part of the human condition. Remove that and there is very little in our history that isn't tainted by some kind of evil.

  42. Andy: The Army WAS part of the genocidal deal we worked on the people who were here before we were. You will note that the Army doesn't celebrate that part of it's history much anymore. My kid gets a little hstory in his second grade class, and what he gets at least tries to put things in perspective. He doesn't "get" cowboys-and-Indians the way I did, being raised on the westerns of the Forties and Fifties.

    My mother taught school in Fairfax, VA back in the late Fifties and early Sixties. She recounts that if you got sick in June you missed the part where the South lost; it was all about Southern battles, Southern heroes, and Southern victories. The entire basis for the damn treason was NEVER mentioned. My generation growing up in the South got that sort of education. That shit needs to stop.

    And more to the point, as Publius points out, we'd be better off as a nation if we hung our heads a little damn lower. We DID a lot of wrong shit; the war with Mexico was nothing but a fairly unprincipled land grab, we pretty much screwed the native inhabitants of the place, our treatment of the black and hispanic people here for whatever reason hasn't been exactly loving and just.

    Is our history better than that of, say Russia, or Britian? Maybe. But that's a pretty damn thin reed.

    Maybe if we were a little more clear-eyed about how much of what we have done - and still willingly do - is "tainted with evil", we'd do less of it.


  43. Andy,
    I'm calling bullshit.

    Lets say, for example, a group of Germans pronounce a fond penchant for the good ol'days.
    The good ol'days being when a good German could go into a store, and know for certain that the butcher behind the counter wasn't a Jew...a gypsy, whatever.
    And also, just to make sure the goose is covered in sauce, reminmences about the glory of the German wehrmacht and SS fighting glorious battles in defense of their way of German life.
    Now, should we roll our eyes, say nothing, and walk away?
    Or, should we call them down on the facts that their selective memory seems to be skipping over?

    I hope you see that when some asshat, regardless of station in life, waxes poetic about a past that exists only in their mind which is so overpainted with roses that even the most hearty of people's constitutions will's time to confront the individual with the truth, and in this case, I would tell anyone that waxes poetically about the South that they lost the fucking war they started, and then advise them to remember the past the way it was, not the way you, I, or they want it to be.

    So, when I read Publius, I happen to agree with him.
    Remembering the "good ol'south" is bullshit.
    there was no good ol'south.
    There was a lot of misery prior and after the war, and as Publius pointed out the South wanted to keep their way of life so much so they were willing to start a war over a way of life that was and is reprehensible.

    Now yes, it happened a hundred and fifty some odd years ago, but I think even you can agree that sometimes people have very short term memories, and those tend to be very selective.

    I happen to not suffer from either.

    So...obviously, I have no qualms about calling a spade a spade. If we are incapable of confronting the little things like our past, how are we going to have the balls to confront our present?

  44. And FDR.

    You keep after me on FDR like you seem to think I have this little FDR altar in my rumpus room and burn incense to it because of the old patrician's Phenomenal Goodness. For the record, let me state my position on FDR.

    FDR was an exceptionally good politician. He was a very bright man, and one that did some "great" (in the sense of world-shaping) things. He was responsible in many ways for helping the U.S. navigate some very perilous times.

    He was also a philandered, a liar at need (or not - most of the people who weren't mesmerized by him commented on the slipperyness of the man; he seems to be a guy capable of deceiving anyone when he wanted to, even himself). He had the political instincts of a great white shark, and used them when he felt threatened. He also committed, to my mind, a great political sin; he didn't accept when it was time for him to go, and he left his successor Truman hanging. He got lucky; Truman was a quick study and a tough little bastard. If it had been friggin Henry Wallace the country might have been in real trouble.

    As far as his policies go, FDR used the same cunning and political assassination skills to gut the Republicans, who had been and were "pro-business" in the same sense that a prostitute is "pro-fucking". He used them as a punching dummy, which, while I find it entertaining, in the long run was bad for the country. His long tenure didn't help, either; it allowed the Taft (later Goldwater, later Reagan, now Teabagger) Republicans to formulate piss-poor policy without consequence. He was a liberal interventionist of the most aggressive stripe.

    He created the New Deal not because he luuuurved him some poor people but because, sly old patroon that he was, he realized in a way that the fatheaded Republicans then (and now, I might add) didn't that if you didn't give the plebs some bread they would come for yours and slit your throat as a go-by.

    He as racist a guy as any of his era and his internment of the Japanese-Americans was atrociously cowardly.

    But...overall his effect was to cap the Progressive Era with reforms that helped create the U.S. that has been such a decent place over the past sixty years or so. Was he perfect? No. Were his methods pristine? No.

    Was his overall impact on the U.S. beneficial for most Americans? Were we - are we - better off than had Wendell Wilkie or Bob Taft been President?

    I say yes.

  45. I am calling the jam here, for me, anyway. We're getting WAY off the subject, anyway.

    But Andy's posts about entitlements and sustainability have got me thinking. I will meet you upthread with some ruminations on the dilemma of the Rich and Famous.

  46. SRV,

    You do make a good case for Universal Health Care and single payer, given the long predicted and complete failure of the free market to provide affordable solutions under Medicare.

    Well that's an interesting but incorrect way to look at it. For one, there isn't a "free market" in healthcare so it seems kind of strange to declare that "free market" solutions failed. Regardless, the wholly public parts of the system are growing just as fast as the private parts of the system, and in many cases much faster.

    As I've said before, I'm not ideologically predisposed to any one solution. I am quite skeptical, however, in the surety with which advocates, such as yourself, parley their particular preferences as solving the sustainability problem. Single-payer could well work provided it was properly structured, but then so could other alternatives (such as vouchers). My primary concern is that the system is sustainable and doesn't make promises it can't keep - I don't much care how that system is structured.

    I'm unsure why you are surprised revenues decline when we've had three decades of tax cuts and resulting raiding of the SS trust.

    Maybe that's because the taxes that actually fund the programs we're talking about here have never been cut. In fact they've almost doubled since Medicare and FICA as we know it today were created (and, shocker of shockers, several of those increases were due to legislation signed by one Ronald Reagan!).

    You're partially correct that excess revenues from FICA allowed the Feds to keep income taxes lower than they otherwise would be (and even then we've had almost continuous deficits!), but that is irrelevant to the sustainability of entitlement programs. Why you ask? Because there are no more surpluses to raid. This year payments for SS and Medicare will begin to exceed revenues. 40 years of cost growth plus the boomer retirements, have finally come home to roost. We can raise FICA or, as Chief suggests, extended the tax past $106k in income, but that will not be sufficient by itself and even if it was, it would prove to be a temporary fix as long as cost growth continues to exceed growth of the economy as a whole. That is the math problem that must be fixed.


    And don't forget the unfunded "Part D" fited to us by those precious small-gummint conservatives!

    Oh, I haven't forgotten that at all! I also haven't forgotten that progressives don't have a plan to either pay for it or cut it out of the budget either. The furthest they can go is to make it a political issue by pointing out the GoP hypocrisy it represents. I, for one, would like actual solutions to these problems in addition to or in lieu of the finger-pointing. Call me crazy....

    We DO need to get an handle on health costs, but that is a place that about 50% of the country doesn't want to go and won't go unless they're dragged there, because it involves making choices about those expensive treatments and, even worse, considering rationing care at the national level like most of the rest of the industrialized world.

    I agree except I would put the figure closer to 80%.


  47. Chief,

    Good comments. I agree with you about FDR - you weigh the good and the bad and consider the whole of the man in the context of his times. I agree with your characterizations. Why is it not possible to do the same with with Civil War figures or anyone else? Like it or not, Democrats venerate FDR in the same way the GoP venerates Reagan. Yet we don't - and we shouldn't - ascribe to democrats FDR's worst aspects. Yet when discussing the Civil war that kind of nuance gets thrown out the window. Look at Basil's reply - the implicit assumption in his comment is that southerners appreciating parts of southern history is wishing for the return of Jim Crow or slavery. Although I'm sure they exist, I've yet to meet a southerner who wishes for the return of Jim Crow, much less slavery.

    Basil, perhaps, if you find the time, you can write down a list of things southerners are allowed to be proud of and the proper way for them to express that pride. As a non-southerner, that would help me immensely since I'll probably be moving to the south next year (Ok, I'm going to Florida, not really the south). For instance, is it ok for me to watch Dukes of Hazzard reruns? What about those big fake cow-balls some people hang from their truck hitch? Is listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd acceptable? Is it ok to admit in public that one listens to Lynyrd skynyrd? Should I give real bullets to union troops in Civil War reenactments? Thanks in advance....;)

    Also, sorry to wail the FDR fish at you all the time, but it seems to me that you bring it up quite frequently in your advocacy for a "new deal" kind of coalition. I'd actually like to see a modern problem-solving coalition too so we agree in our desire, at least generally. My cynicism gets the best of me sometimes and for that I apologize.

  48. I have to admit, that I didn't see the whole "Southern thing" coming in regards to this post . . . not of course that we haven't discussed/vented our views on this subject before. My threads on first Nathan Bedford Forrest and then Joe Wilson's outburst saw enough of that. I've stated my views on those threads so see no need to repeat them now.

    What I suppose I find surprising is that - I would think - the nature and seriousness of our current political problems would outweigh the need to revisit this particular historical topic, or allow an assumed (and I think unwarranted) perspective on this topic to so affect one's judgment of someone who is a powerful spokesman opposing the same national trends/abuses that we all constantly condemn. Rather how much easier it is to paint one with the "tarbrush" of racism in order to avoid the actual questions I have raised.

    But then what else should one expect, being as I am after all, one of "them" . . .

  49. One additional point which makes my argument in regards to point 1 in the original post, but also point 2.

    We seem incapable as a political community of forming an opposition movement in any way to counter the steady death of our Republic. Instead we lack even the basic moral and institutional cohesion to resist what is in essence an oligarical takeover.

    Think about it. We here are actually quite well-read, informed, serious, dedicated . . . But could it be that the ability to put aside certain deep-seated animosities precludes us from forming an effectice coalition (which would have to include large numbers of conservatives - refer to my Rauschning/Winter posts)? If that is the case for this actually very articulate and knowledgeable group how does it stand for the general public?

    I think this quality actually defines the true nature of the unprecedented character of the political crisis which engulfs us . . . we assist in our own manipulation and domination, provide the handle to the whips used . . .

  50. Greetings and salutation. A little birdie told me about this blog and I figured I would come read and perhaps comment. Interesting discourse. I feel I need to weigh in because, well, I think there are some misconceptions going on.

    First of all, let me be up front that I have never served in the military. Never been shot at in anger (thankfully, street thugs live in other sections of Tampa than I do). The closest I've ever been was the 8 years I did American Civil War reenacting (that's where my handle comes in: 14th Brooklyn Militia, 1st (later 5th) Corps, Army of the Potomac). However, I did study military history in college at The University of South Florida under Dr. Cecil. B Currey (US Army, Col. Ret.) and took many of his lessons to heart (especially on the Augustinian concept of Just War). I'm a Ron Paul Tea Partier (and I mean the Tea Party movement as it started in Dec. 2007 as a repudiation of the Bush-Era policies) as well as a Free-Market Anarchist (yes, its not a contradication, trust me).

    About the American Civil War: neither the Federals nor the Confederates can claim a monopoly on the moral high ground. The Confederacy, its true, upheld the vile institution of Slavery (which was based, despite current belief, upon Caste and not Race. Read the Mary Chestnut if you don't believe me). However, anyone who does not recognize the fact that the tariffs played a huge part in the dispute is simply ignorant. Then there is the fact secession was further spurred by Lincoln ordering up militia and troops into the South. Had he not done this, Virginia and the other later seceding States might have gotten things under control.

    As for the Federals, let's be bluntly honest. A military mission that violates the rules and precepts of Just War cannot claim to be moral. Period. There is also the fact that the Federals were knee-deep in bed with Corporate/Bankster interests. This was, after all, the event that birthed Wall Street (basically) as we know it. The Railroad Era ring a bell? There is a term for that and its called Blood Money.

    The war was an orgy of blood and should not EVER be held up as some sort of great cause. I am just as guilty as the rest because the war is fascinating and I still get flutters seeing my beloved Red-Legged Devils of the 14th Brooklyn in their Chasseurs à pied uniforms. It was not Just and it was most certainly avoidable. No other country in the West got rid of Slavery by engaging in a bloody conflict. The residual resentment created in the aftermath is still with us today. And, let's be honest about this as well: Jim Crow was birthed in the North long before it migrated South (and my Southern ancestors paid a heavy price for their folly in adopting those vile pieces of legislation). The "One-Drop Rule" existed in the North well in advance of it being imported to the South.

    If one is going to go on a tirade about morality, it doesn't do any good to hold up an equally vile institution as some how being virtuous. That's called Cognitive Dissonance.

  51. As for the modern Tea Party movement, it started with the Dec. 16th 2007 Money-Bomb for Dr. Ron Paul, Congressman R-TX, who was running for President in the 2008 election. There are videos on YouTube that show this if you need verification. It was a reaction AGAINST George W. Bush and his policies: Preemptive War, Torture, Police-State growth as well as a reaction against the people actually running our country: The Federal Reserve Bank. At no time did any of the Tea Partiers I know actually give a rat's @ss about Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck (he called us potential terrorists) or douchebag Rick Santelli. The Tea Parties I know, if they have anything akin to 'Saints' are Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Barry Goldwater and Robert Taft. Most I know hold Reagan in as much contempt as we do Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, FDR and Woodrow Wilson. Most of the Tea Parties I know are advocates of The Austrian School of Economics in contrast to the Chicago School (favoured by Monetarists/Neo-Keynesians like Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke) or Keynesian Economists (like Paul Krugman). Most Tea Parties I know understand and embrace the concept of Negative Rights, understanding that so-called Positive Rights are "temporary Privileges" (to quote George Carlin).

    However, The Tea Party movement is not monolithic. Yes, there are NeoCon interlopers (we call them Tea-o-Cons) and there are misinformed idiots (many of them Sarah Palin followers). I myself am an example that you cannot peg one of us as being 'typical'. I wholeheartedly hope for the peaceful dissolution of The State at all levels or at least for an area for me to live where I no longer will be negatively impacted by The State. At no point in my life has The State done anything but make my life worse. Many others are Minarchists and I'm perfectly fine with that if they want to live where there is a State, that's their business. Most (but not all) say they are willing to let people like me go our merry way to live as Anarcho-Capitalists in our own society and not be bothered.

    As for healing our nation, I must state that I truly believe there is no saving the system as we know it. Our fiat currency, as all fiat currencies do, is going to implode. We will face Hyperinflation in our lifetime unless a miracle occurs (such as allowing competing currencies). Too many special interests control the strings in our nation and its our ancestors who sold us into slavery via Corporate Personhood. They didn't defeat the true enemy in The American Revolution: The East India Company. They simply exchanged one set of thugs for a homegrown variety.

  52. Brooklyn Red Leg-

    Welcome. I think you the first reenactment enthusiast we've had comment. I'm not really interested in re-fighting the Civil War, or War Between the States, or whatever. If you're interested please refer to my Nathan Bedford Forrest thread, which you may find interesting . . . Of course it's up to the others as to whether they wish to continue in this vein . . . My questions have been essentially answered.

    In essence, I find this whole subject a distraction from what should be the important issues addressed on this thread.

    Admit that I have a soft spot for Ron Paul, as I think most actual conservatives do. Will have to do a thread on von Mises, but be advised I'm very much in Max Weber's corner, so we probably won't see it quite the same way . . .

  53. seydlitz: I think you're letting the byplay obscure the comments on your main topic, and that goes back to your original choice of Pat Lang as the standard-bearer for your anti-imperial trope.

    I think that most of us here, having many of us been in harm's way or faced with the probability because of our country's apparent casual indifference to adventuring in foreign climes, would agree that the U.S. would be well served by a government less inclined to see other people's problems as their opportunities.

    But I also think that we don't really see how we're going to get there from here.

    The political choices we've had that have offered that as policy have been either ignored or rejected. I'm not sure how, short of a fundamental, multi-generational change in American public opinion, you can change that.

    I mean, look at the side-issue of southern hagiography and slavery. Fighting for slavery = bad, yes? Seems straightforward, no? And yet we can't even get beyond the mythology of the old Confederacy to agree on that.

    So I don't think the issue is a matter of agreeing with you - I think most here do. It's the practical questions of "How would you make a concerted push to counter the interventionist received wisdom work if smart people like Lang, Bachevich, Kucinich, and even Ron Paul, can't seem to?"

  54. Andy: I've said it here before and I'll say it again; I would give my 401K, what little it's worth right now, to have the Eisenhower Republicans back.

    But the reality today is that we've returned to the default setting of the pre-1945 U.S.; Jacksonians vs. Jeffersonians, slave-staters vs. freesoilers, Progressives vs. Corporatists (vs. Anarchists!).

    I don't think that we "can't" solve the problems we're facing so much as we can't agree on how to do it. About a third of us have foresworn taxation altogether. And the hardening of the Right's position is having a similar effect on the Left.

    The Senate, with it's effective supermajority rule, is nonfunctional. House districts are often so gerrymandered as to make real hope for electoral change a wish. We've worked so hard at divorcing physical choices from fiscal and financial consequences for so long that Dick Cheney can say that deficits don't matter and really believe it...

    Add to that what I think will become a real significant problem and one that I want us to discuss further in a seperate post;

    1. We're a wealthy industrial society that no longer controls most of the raw materials we need for our wealth, whilst

    2. The places we are aquiring our materials from want to and are developing their own industries and don't want to be our supply closet anymore, and

    3. We're looking at serious, really serious, competition from places like India and China, which can produce much of what we produce while paying their workers a fraction of what ours need to stay anywhere near the middle class, which

    4. Suggests that we will soon be faced with the possibility that a significantly large chunk of our population will be not just unemployed but unemployABLE at anything but Third World wages.

    And there ar huge implications for that demographically and politically. But I really do want to think about this more and explore it in a seperate post...

  55. BRL: "They didn't defeat the true enemy in The American Revolution: The East India Company."


  56. The East India Company was the true enemy, the puppet pulling the strings of King George III.

  57. FDChief-

    The reason the individuals that you mention have so little influence is because they are all acting as individuals. A movement - defined by their rejection of Empire - on the other hand could have a completely different dynamic, might actually be able to gain some traction.

    "But I also think that we don't really see how we're going to get there from here."

    At this point I think any potential opposition would not be able to see how the whole thing would play out. The Refusniks in the old East Block had no idea that their movement would lead to the Revolutions of 1989, but that didn't stop them. I think it more like an "adventure" in that you realize that you are on an adventure, but you don't know how it is going to develop or how it will turn out in the end, if in fact it will even succeed or lead to disaster. I think the importance is defining an opposition broad enough to be an actual threat to the Empire and then attaining some sort of forward movement. Eisenhower for instance described US history in his farewell address as "America's adventure in free government".

    "I mean, look at the side-issue of southern hagiography and slavery. Fighting for slavery = bad, yes? Seems straightforward, no? And yet we can't even get beyond the mythology of the old Confederacy to agree on that."

    Which is my point, there are various "mythologies" involved, which only cloud the actual issues which are contemporary. My larger point is that perhaps the animosities between conservative and progressive/Liberal are simply too great to bridge, which precludes us from establishing an effective movement to oppose the Empire Party. This condition is unprecedented in our history, with the Radicals essentially implementing their new state of affairs against an indifferent and atomized pulp.

  58. Seydlitz,

    After thinking about this a bit more, here's how I see things in an historical context. Keep in mind I'm putting this a bit simplistically.

    Through all of our history, our nation has not been very good at bringing about collective solutions at the national level. The exceptions to this were the result of severe or existential crises of one sort or another. In a crisis environment it becomes easier to build a coalition to deal with whatever problem the country faces. This past century we had the Great Depression which was the crisis that allowed the progressive coalition to gain enough support to implement their agenda. This was continued through WWII with a national-level war economy. After WWII the threat of Communism and the Cold War served as a continuing "crisis" of sorts that allowed nation-level action in a host of areas that, in more typical times, probably could not have happened.

    It's my sense that the end of the Cold War returned us (or we are in the process of returning to) to a "pre-crisis" state of affairs. In that regard I think Chief is right that circumstances today are similar to the pre-progressive era. The reason, I think, is that there currently is no national-level issue that displaces internal divisions in the political sphere, so those internal divisions become our everyday politics. Absent this kind of national consensus, we've devolved into regional, cultural and ideological politics - a politics of competing values. In short, the various factions in this country not only have different preferences and methods for achieving goals, but different goals altogether. Contrast this to, for example, the Cold War where political factions largely shared major goals (ie. defeat/deter Communism) but perhaps differed in approach.

    Building a broad movement in the current environment where there isn't a consensus on goals or where we are headed isn't going to be easy. But the more I think about it, the more I think you are right because, as I often assert, we are heading toward another crisis. If that is true or likely, then it makes sense to at least lay the groundwork for a movement in order to be prepared once the crisis comes. In the meantime I think factionalism is a reality that will have to be accounted for.

    One area where I may disagree is that I think the Empire Party is already a dinosaur on its way to extinction. I don't think it's going to last because I think the next crisis is going to be a domestic economic crisis which will put a nail in the coffin of foreign adventurism and maintenance of Cold War security structures. In short, absent something like an Axis coalition or the USSR, people will choose butter over guns when and if an economic crisis comes.

    On the question of whether or not Pat Lang could, should or would be a leader in an nascent movement - that is something I cannot answer.

  59. Andy: Just wanted to observe that your comment above is perhaps the most cogent in this thread to date. Well said, man!

    I will only add that I think you have sussed out the real problem to seydlitz's original argument, which is that we're still in the "pre-crisis" stage and as such still very much in flux. The shape and size of the "crisis" will, I think, matter critically in determining both the kind and the direction of the response.

    My concern is that the "crisis" may not be a crisis as we understand it; not a Great Depression or Civil War. Instead we may go the way of Imperial Spain; slowly slipping further and further into desuetude but unable to recognize how badly we've slipped. Great powers have enormous resilience, and the shell of the power tends to remain in place for quite some time after the actual power has been lost. How many Britons actually "got" that the imperial era was over in 1945? Hell, Churchill never DID accept that; he was still furious about the loss of India in the mid-Fifties...

  60. BRL: What the hell did the HEIC have to gain from wasting a pantsload of cash in North America after 1776? Keep in mind that the East India Company Act had already screwed it for nefarious corporate skulduggery three years earlier.

    I'll buy that prior to 1773 it might have made sense for the HEIC to try and suppress rebellion so it could make more money on monoploized trade with the Americans. But after '73 any gains were going to go to HM Government, not the Company. Makee no sense.

  61. FDChief - Okay, let me try again. I suppose I'm not being clear:

    The same thing that Corporations today turn to the government to bail them out at the expense of the poor shmucks like us: market share. What the frell do you think the East India Company was going to do if George III quashed the rebellion? Break up shop and leave? Hell no, they had their monopoly and the Crown was going to win it back for them, over the bodies of thousands of colonists if need be. Incoporation is a legal shield to commit rapine, slaughter in exchange for enhancing The State's coffers.

    Yes, George III was going to get tax monies from HEIC, but they were going to reap the benefit ultimately. The true enemy in The American Revolution was The East India Company. We threw off one set of tyrants only to have our own homegrown variety in the form of the Mercantilists via Hamilton.

  62. As per Andy's request, assuming it was to me, a defense of the South.

    The whole country was slave-owning when we first set foot in the New World, but the North discovered the Joys of the Industrial Revolution while the South ( and by that I refer to the "Powers That Be" at the time ) perpetuated their "Peculiar Situation" by continuing to ship their cotton, tobacco, sugar and rice and pocketing their profits to build their mansions and live the life they wanted in freedom, all supported by dirt-cheap slave labor and share-croppers.

    I would disagree with yet another Nazi comparison, this time to the ante-bellum South. I'm positive that there were exceptions, but the treatment of the slaves by their Southern master came nowhere near the murderous atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. One may make a valid comparison of Southern "intellectuals" and religious leaders who claimed blacks were not the same race as whites ( many said the apes produced the blacks ) to the Nazi propaganda machine spewing their lies that non-Aryans like the Jews and Poles were sub-human.

    I don't know, had Lincoln lived, whether or not he could have stopped the CarpetBagger invasion of the South, the bitter Anti-Reconstructionist folk of the North, and the forced imposition of figure-head former slaves in positions of power in the South.

    Meanwhile, back up North, along with the Joys of the IR, they discovered the joys of legal slavery ( from child labor all the way up to women locked in their fire-hazardous sewing factories ) until the Commie/Socialist version of the late 1800s and early 1900s up to McCarthy started to buck the system.

    Brooklyn, I have noticed your posts at RAW and the wicked way they treat you there! ( A joke, guys, honest! )
    Kudos to your crowd giving Cheney the finger at CPAC.

    But I can never be a Ron Paul Libertarian. Anybody who can create a Rand Paul has to have some screws lose somewhere.

    I wish I had more time, to be here, but I don't. Miss y'all.



  63. Brooklyn, I have noticed your posts at RAW and the wicked way they treat you there!

    Hehe. I truly believe that Gerald Celente was right in 2009: there is going to be a fusion of the Progressives and Libertarians in the near future to try and rein in the rapacity of The State. I dislike Dennis Kucinich for his economic positions, but I will stand with him and others (even people like Michael Moore) when they call for ending things like The USA PATRIOT ACT and such.

    Kudos to your crowd giving Cheney the finger at CPAC.

    Yea, I'm glad my buddies that went to CPAC did that. Its high time people understand that there is a radical difference between the NeoCons and Libertarian-wings of the Republican Party. Cheney/Rumsfeld deserve nothing but scorn in my opinion. Funny how Cheney in the mid-90s, like Bush in 2000, talked of how Nation-Building was wrong (vis-a-vis Iraq and Operation Desert Storm).

  64. Gentlemen-

    Notice I have revised my four observations:

    * We Americans are in the midst of a profound political crisis, probably the most serious one we have ever faced as a political community.

    * This crisis consists of a whole series of systemic failures which include the political, the economic, the strategic/intellectual, the moral . . .

    * The current US elite holding de facto power, call them the "Empire Party" are anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, anti-Enlightenment, and radical in their views and intentions for the future of this country. They attempt to pass themselves off mostly as "conservatives" or even at times as "progressives", but their words are consistently betrayed by their actions. Their actions see the means of US government power as a tool to their own enrichment, they use public funds to enrich themselves and promote their own narrow interests.

    * The Empire Party has a powerful propaganda instrument in their hands which is used effectively to confuse the citizenry. This propaganda has a significant ideological element which is especially "Libertarian" and Radical Right wing, yet most of those under the influence of this political propaganda do not gain anything through its goals or even benefit from the system in general, rather suffer under it in a variety of ways. The mass of supporters are essentially stooges to be manipulated at will for the interests of the cynical elite. Part of the propaganda mix is a pseudo-religious affiliation with Right-wing Israeli policies, although affiliation with other like-minded foreign interests is assumed.

    -Essentially the same as the original with some changes to the last point, but only to clarify.

    I'm very happy with this thread.

    When I read your thought out and clearly expressed reasoning . . . it quickly becomes apparent that what seemed clear isn't actually so clear at all, but then what else could be expected under 1 & 2 above? We are not imo in any "pre-crisis situation", rather engulfed in the backwash of numerous crises which we attempt feverishly to ignore . . . at least that would be the conclusion of following the four above points in regards their implications . . .

  65. Andy-

    Nice. Let me think some about it.

  66. BRL: Mmmm...bit simplistic, no? Admittedly the HEIC was hurting from a loss of sales to North America, but I suspect that the total sales in NA were a fraction of their sales in Britain. Why coerce the Crown to spend that lucre in America (and, more to the point, again - if the HEIC was so freakin' powerful, why the hell didn't it get the "Regulating Act for India" quashed in Parliament in 1773) when they could have just put the jack into beefing up the British Excise and screwed it out of the Brits? Plus you're eliding the effects of the Seven Year's (French & Indian) War in the form of the Sugar, Currency, Stamp, and Quartering Acts, not to mention the resentment generated by the Proclamation of 1763, all of which did little or nothing for John Company.

    I have no doubt that the HEIC hoped to get as much out of the war as McDonnell-Douglass and FLIR hope to get out of our current wars, but as a major driving force? As the shadowy power behind the North and Germain governments? How the heck could they do that when they couldn't even keep their own Governor-General out of the dock?

  67. basil: Yes the North had lots of racists. Yes, it had lots of slaves (at least until the middle of the 1800s. Yes, the North did lots of Bad Stuff.


    The Southern states decided to break the country rather than stop owning black people like you and I do a box of Froot Loops. The "invasion of the carpet-baggers and the forced imposition of former slaves" was, in fact, an attempt to prevent the Southern slavers to do just exactly what they did, which was return their former property to the status of beings-outside-the-law. The attempt of those people in this country who tried to reverse that in the 20th Century fractured the nation again, this time driving the racists out of the Democratic Party and in to many a Tea Party.

    We in this country really need to stop trying to put lipstick on this pig, accept that what the South did was the last, desperate gasp of the fucked-up, slaving racism that started out the status-quo in 1776 and lives on in assorted racist prickdom throughout the nation even today, and consign the damn Rebs to the dustbin of history along with all the other wrongheaded morons; the damn apartheid government of South Africa, the damn Chicago Black Sox, and the damn crooks at Enron. Let 'em all rot in hell.

  68. Mmmm...bit simplistic, no?

    FDChief - I don't think so. Its apparent we're going to have to agree to disagree.


    As for the dustbin of history, I must say that I hope that Statism in all its evil forms will soon be relegated to it. People want to be free and humans THRIVE when free. Governments make people slaves and murders them. The Century of War taught us Democide (death by ones own government): some 280 million humans were killed for the only crime of being alive. If human beings are incapable of being angels, why is it thought that somehow government (which is made up of humans) will somehow be virtuous?

  69. BRL: I'm not trying to pick on you here. But your interpretation is widely at variance with both the statements by the participants at the time (that is, the American rebels railed against the King, his ministers, and the Parliament for not providing a voice for the colonies, but complaints against the HEIC and mother country corporate actions are conspicuously absent) and the interpretation of the root causes of the Revolution by historians working on the period since then, and the rule of thumb in any discipline is that unconventional interpretations requires a pretty conclusive level of support.

    Can you point me towards your sources for the criticality of HEIC in British North American policy in the 1770s?

  70. BRL: I feel like I'm bashing you, and I'm not, really.

    But you made a categorical statement about government, and here you should keep in mind that most of us have been deployed to or dealt with places where there really is no government, or no effective government, and, for the record, if you really think that "statism" (that is, the notion that "governments make people slaves and murder them") is the Ultimate Evil you really need to spend some time in Somalia. Again, I'm not trying to beat up on you or insist that this forum is some sort of rarified academic ivory tower, but we do try and keep our discussions within the bounds of supportable argument.

    Your assertion is fine as hyperbole but isn't really supportable as argument. Like AK-47s, governments can be used for very great evil if they are organized and run on totalitarian lines. But the difference between, say, the "government" of the Stalinist USSR and the government of modern Belgium is the difference between steel and cheese. And NO government simply means the rule of the strongest; humans have proved that again and again.

  71. BRL-

    Agree with FDChief, the state is simply an apparatus of control by which the rulers administer a political community. Do away with the state and rulers will still need some sort of apparatus, say private contractors/mercenary bands/corporations? And how exactly would these entities be answerable to the people?

    They wouldn't.

    If we define politics as a struggle among competing collective entities (mainly mass political parties) over control of the state apparatus, we see that doing away with the state would also do away with mass (or democratic) politics . . . be careful what you wish for.

  72. Chief,

    Thanks for the compliment! I guess even blind squirrels sometimes find something that resembles a nut.


    I don't think our disagreement is all that large - I agree with you that we're in a crisis, but that crisis hasn't yet materialized into the national consciousness. Most people's everyday lives are not greatly affected and so they can continue to operate as if everything is basically ok. You and I agree that everything isn't ok and it's my opinion that the day is approaching when when the problems in this nation can no longer be papered over. It's at that point that I think the "crisis" will come and, hopefully, enable a broad coalition to rationally and reasonably address our many problems.


    I admit I never really got the "good government" meme that some progressives sell as well as the "bad government" meme that you describe. To me, government is like fire - it's value is context-dependent. If fire burns your house down or is used to burn "witches" then fire is bad. But if fire cooks your food and keeps you warm in the cold, dark night, then fire is good. The key to good governance is control of government, not abolition of government. The latter isn't really possible anyway since people are social creatures and will self-organize in the absence of government.

  73. Andy: The upside of this forum is the quantity and quality of the nuts!

    One thing to think about re: "crisis"; by their natures, crises tend to break down rational analyses and fracture coalitions. Not for no reasons do the strongman/totalitarian regimes tend to emerge from the crises; Lincoln in the Civil War and FDR in the Depression/WW2, Cromwell from the ECW, Napoleon from the French Revolution, Lenin (and then Stalin) from the Russian.

    So my concern re: this country is two-headed; in one case I see the possibility of a long slide into imperial twilight, with oligarchic traditions growing every more entrenched, while in the other I see something erupting into a crisis and allowing a Tea Party-type demagogue seizing power by demonizing the Evil Gummint/scary brown people/commie librls under the bed/whatever...

    What I don't see is the sort of coalition that headed off the oligarchy in the early 20th Century. The "muckrakers" are raking muck for Rupert Murdoch, the financial elites have lost any sense of noblesse oblige - there are few Carnagies left - and the moderate conservatives in both parties are gone, the Republicans just gone, period and the Democrats largely in the pocket of the same financial elites that are benefitting from the current unsustainable course...

    I agree that there SHOULD be some sort of grounds for a coalition of small-government Right and moderate Left, but the social divisions look too great to overcome.

  74. Can you point me towards your sources for the criticality of HEIC in British North American policy in the 1770s?

    FDChief - Not really. I can only give my opinion. I will provide this (I realise its not Primary Evidence. Yes, I do remember my training in History ~_^)

    Jefferson Was Right
    By: Dr. Michael P. Byron - 05/24/03

    Most Americans don’t know it but Thomas Jefferson, along with James Madison worked assiduously to have an 11th Amendment included into our nation’s original Bill of Rights. This proposed Amendment would have prohibited “monopolies in commerce.” The amendment would have made it illegal for corporations to own other corporations, or to give money to politicians, or to otherwise try to influence elections. Corporations would be chartered by the states for the primary purpose of “serving the public good.” Corporations would possess the legal status not of natural persons but rather of “artificial persons.” This means that they would have only those legal attributes which the state saw fit to grant to them. They would NOT; and indeed could NOT possess the same bundle of rights which actual flesh and blood persons enjoy. Under this proposed amendment neither the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, nor any provision of that document would protect the artificial entities known of as corporations.

    As for Somalia, I can again offer something that perhaps you haven't seen/read:

    Better Off Stateless: Somalia Before and After Government Collapse*
    Peter T. Leeson
    Department of Economics
    West Virginia University

    Could anarchy be good for Somalia’s development? If state predation goes unchecked government may not only fail to add to social welfare, but can actually reduce welfare below its level under statelessness. Such was the case with Somalia’s government, which did more harm to its citizens than good. The government’s collapse and subsequent emergence of statelessness opened the opportunity for Somali progress. This paper uses an “event study” to investigate the impact of anarchy on Somali development. The data suggest that while the state of this development remains low, on nearly all of 18 key indicators that allow pre- and post-stateless welfare comparisons, Somalis are better off under anarchy than they were under government. Renewed vibrancy in critical sectors of Somalia’s economy and public goods in the absence of a predatory state are responsible for this improvement.

  75. BRL: No argument re: the notion that corporations are and should not be treated as "persons". Joel Bakan's "The Corporation" makes the point explicitly that if corporations WERE people they would be psychopathic. That doesn't really get around the notion that John Company was pulling the strings in North America between 1776 and 1781. I would be very interested in any primary or solid secondary sources you could cite. If you have this information you should consider publishing it; you would make a considerable stir in Revolutionary Period history circles.

    Re: Somalia. The comparison here probably needs to be between a functional government and Somalia. Sidi Barre's "government" was many things, but I would not consider functional among them; the fucker was an incompetent Maxist dictatorship. Marxism is bad enough, but incompetent? Yike.

    Other than that the Leeson article is interesting. It does make several points arguing that a degree of statelessness is preferable to an incompetent state, and makes some good arguments that the degree of government we take for granted in the West isn't all that. I would observe that;

    1. The Somali appear to have continued to have "governments", just not in the western form. We're not talking anarchy, a genuine libertarian non-state. The clans still functioned as clans, the islamic and xeer courts acted to settle disputes, various markets distributed goods. They didn't have a central government, which, given the venality and viciousness of the former government, was probably to the good. But there were definitely "people in authority".

    2. The article elides the period between the fall of the Barre' regime in '89 and the equilibrium that more-or-less developed about ten years later. During that period statelessness wasn't a positive but quite the opposite, as various warlords fought over who got what.

    3. The article also mentions the piracy in SE Puntland but doesn't go into how the lack of an effective government allowed foreign trawlers to rape the Somali territorial waters, dump toxic waste and so forth. So mixed blessings there.

    But on the whole definately worth the read; good catch.